BACON-WRAPPED MONKFISH WITH LOBSTER FALL SQUASH, TELLICHERRY PEPPER JUS
SLICED TO RESEMBLE a maritime tournedos, the monkfish, often called the poor man’s lobster for its similarity of texture, hides real lobster tail inside. To get to the essential fillets, we trim them from the ferocious monkfish tails, then carefully wrap them in the thinnest sheet of double-smoked bacon for a shot of intensity and complexity. As we slowly rotate the fillets while roasting the bacon to crispiness, the delicate fish cooks gently, warming the opaque lobster at its core. A variety of sweet fall squash, glazed, roasted, pureed, and pickled, counterbalances the brininess and smokiness of the dish.
In a large saucepan, bring the court bouillon to a boil and place a large bowl of ice water on the side. Devein the lobster tails by gently twisting and pulling away the center tail fin; the vein should slide out. If needed, use fish tweezers and rinse with cold water. Insert a skewer through the tails lengthwise to straighten them. Boil the tails for 1 minute, then submerge them in the ice water to chill. Remove the tails from their shells and slice them in half lengthwise.
Cut the dark translucent membrane away from the monkfish fillets. With a small knife, score a line halfway into the flesh down the center length of each fillet to create a channel that will later hold the lobster tails.
Place a sheet of parchment paper a few inches longer than a fillet on a flat work surface. Arrange the bacon by laying 2 slices vertically on one side of the paper, with the ends overlapping by ½ inch. Working horizontally toward the other end of the paper, continue layering bacon slices in vertical pairs, with each pair overlapping the last by ¼ inch. Continue building to form a rectangle with a length that is 1 inch longer than a monkfish fillet. Trim the edges of the rectangle into straight lines and reserve ½ cup of the scraps for the Tellicherry pepper and bacon jus.
Season the monkfish fillets and lobster tails with salt and pepper on all sides. Lay 1 fillet horizontally with the channel facing up on the bacon 4 inches from the bottom edge. Nestle the lobster tail halves into the channel; be sure to slightly overlap the ends for a uniform thickness. Place the second monkfish fillet on top, channel side down, with its thicker end meeting the thinner end of the bottom fillet, covering the lobster.
Using the parchment paper as an aid, wrap the bacon up and around the top of the monkfish, and then roll forward to completely enrobe the monkfish with the bacon. Cut several 10-inch lengths of butcher’s twine and snugly tie them around the monkfish at 1-inch intervals to secure the bacon. Reserve, chilled, until ready to serve.
For the Glazed Squash
Peel the butternut squash and separate the neck from the base. With a sharp mandoline, make 12 paper-thin lengthwise slices from the neck and trim into 1-inch-wide × 3-inch-long ribbons; reserve for pickling. Cut the rest of the neck into at least eighteen ½-inch cubes, reserving the trim and base for the puree.
When ready to serve, place the butternut squash cubes in a pan large enough to fit them in a single layer and add 3 tablespoons of the butter and 1 cup of the chicken stock. In a small sauté pan, combine the delicata squash batons with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and ½ cup chicken stock. Season both pans with salt and pepper and cook at a light simmer for about 8 minutes, until the squash is tender but not colored and the liquid is reduced to a glaze. Be careful not to overcook the squash, which could mash the edges.
For the Pickled Squash Ribbons
Place the squash ribbons in a heatproof container. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar and bring to a simmer; pour over the ribbons and reserve, chilled, for at least 1 hour and up to 1 week.
For the Roasted Spaghetti Squash
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Fit a baking sheet with a wire rack. Halve the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Season the flesh with the olive oil and salt and pepper, wrap with foil, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until just cooked, about 45 minutes (be careful not to overcook, or the squash will lose the spaghetti strand texture). Remove from the foil and invert onto the rack to cool and strain off excess liquid, about 10 minutes. Using a fork, scoop the strands from the shell.
For the Butternut Squash Puree
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large heatproof saucepan over medium heat, lightly brown the butter and add the squash, sage, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir, cover, and transfer to the oven. Bake until tender, about 35 minutes. Discard the sage, transfer the squash to a blender, and puree, streaming in enough chicken stock to form a thick puree. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and keep warm.
For the Tellicherry Pepper and Bacon Jus
Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat and add the bacon trim. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crispy. Strain and discard the fat from the pan and add the peppercorns, sage, and vinegar. Reduce until almost dry, then add the chicken jus and stock. Simmer for 10 minutes, strain through a fine-meshed sieve, and reserve, kept warm.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a sauté pan or roasting pan large enough to fit the monkfish (if needed, cut the fish into 2 pieces), melt the clarified butter over medium-high heat. Add the monkfish and sear on all sides, turning about every 30 seconds, until the bacon is evenly browned. Add the garlic and sage; reduce to medium heat and baste the bacon fat over the fish. Place the pan in the oven for 8 to 12 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through, turning and basting the fish every 2 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and let rest for 5 minutes in a warm place. Remove the twine and slice into 6 portions. Transfer the spaghetti squash to a small sauté pan over medium heat and toss to heat through; adjust the seasoning if needed.
For each serving, place a spoonful of hot spaghetti squash at the center of a plate and arrange 3 cubes of butternut squash around the rim; top each one with a baton of delicata squash. Place 2 large spoonfuls of butternut squash puree between the dice and surround them with 2 pickled squash ribbons. Sprinkle cracked black pepper and fleur de sel onto a slice of monkfish and place on top of the spaghetti squash. Dot the jus on the plate and garnish with 4 pieces of baby purple shiso.